31/01/2024 19comments  |  Jump to last
Fulham 0 - 0 Everton

Everton ground out their third goalless draw in their last five matches in all competitions as they survived sustained second-half pressure from Fulham to leave Craven Cottage with a valuable point but still dropped back into the relegation zone after Luton’s shock drubbing of Brighton.

Both teams hit the woodwork and the Toffees had Jordan Pickford to thank for pulling off a world-class save to deny Tosin Adarabioyo with a quarter of an hour to go at one end. Meanwhile, at the other, Timothy Castagne cleared off his goal-line, Atonee Robinson got away with handball in his six-yard box, and substitute Beto somehow missed the best chance of the game in stoppage time at the death.

There was more bad news on the injury front, however, for a small squad stretched dangerously thin when Arnaut Danjuma had to be helped off in the 90th minute with an apparent ankle problem.

Sean Dyche had already been forced to patch together a starting XI given the absences of Andre Gomes (calf), Amadou Onana (knee), Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Idrissa Gueye (AfCoN) which saw Ashley Young return from his own injury lay-off to play wide on the right, Ben Godfrey to play right-back instead of Nathan Patterson and Dwight McNeil to play a more central role alongside James Garner in midfield.

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But they held their own in the first half and had their chances to go ahead, not least in only the second minute when Dominic Calvert-Lewin laid the ball back for Jack Harrison but the winger swept a left-foot shot narrowly past the far post from near the edge of the box.

The striker was denied a crack at goal of his own when Issa Diop charged down the ball aimed at his feet from Vitalii Mykolenko and Danjuma later registered an official shot on target from 25 yards out with a daisy-cutter that Bernd Leno comfortably gathered.

In between, as the contest opened up into a back-and-forth tussle, Robinson forced the first save of note from Pickford when he latched onto James Tarkowski’s clearing header and drilled a shot goal-wards but midway through the first period, Everton came within a third of the diameter of the ball from taking the lead.

Young took responsibility for a free-kick just outside the box after he himself had been fouled by Robinson, Leno pushing his low delivery back into danger in front of his goal. Tarkowski’s shot on the rebound bobbled off a defender’s head and bounced off the bar, struck Robinson’s hand as it spun back onto the goal-line where Castagne hooked it clear.

Video Assistant Referee David Coote reportedly argued that the American international's arm was by his side when it struck his hand but replays and still images from the other end of the ground clearly showed it was well away from his hip. It left Dyche perplexed after the game, the manager saying to the media:

“We can't get a penalty, you know that. We haven't had a penalty [this season]. I think we're a bit lost with the handball thing and VAR generally, even though I'm generally a fan of it.“

The visitors carved out another great chance in the 32nd minute when Danjuma was picked out down the left channel and he turned Joao Pahlinha in the box but when he needed to hit the target to at least work the keeper, he instead ballooned his shot into the stand behind the goal.

The always-dangerous Willian saw a shot blocked by Jarrad Branthwaite and Andreas Pereira flashed an effort narrowly over the bar while another Calvert-Lewin layoff to Harrison ended with the latter firing straight down the keeper’s throat before both sides spurned opportunities to go into the break a goal up.

First Castagne hammered the ball into Everton’s six-yard box and the ball deflected off Tarkowski into the path of Jimenez but, thankfully, the Mexico international slashed the rebound wide from close range.

Then, Harrison flighted a chipped ball to Danjuma near the back post in the Cottagers’ box but the Dutchman’s volley was blocked behind by Castagne.

The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued into the first 15 minutes or so of the second half despite Marco Silva being forced into withdrawing Jimenez due to injury and introducing Rodrigo Muniz in his place.

Godfrey, who had an impressive game in a full-back role in which he hasn’t always looked comfortable, made a couple of crucial interventions in front of his own goal before going close to scoring himself following a free-kick, the defender’s goal-bound shot taking a crucial deflection off a defender and bouncing wide.

From the resulting corner, Calvert-Lewin’s header caught the top of the crossbar and a minute later, the striker stooped to connect with Young’s cross from the right but this time his header dropped into the roof of the net.

What followed was a sustained spell of Fulham pressure and a barrage of corners during which Everton retreated into their own half and tried to protect what they had.

Pereira narrowly missed trying to force the ball home at the back post off Robinson’s cross, Godfrey made a last-ditch intervention to slide the ball behind after Bobby De Cordova-Reid had raced out of a crunching challenge with Branthwaite and Pahlinha blazed just over when he connected with a high bouncing ball in the Blues’ area.

In the 65th minute, Fulham counter-attacked, Pereira fed Muniz whose shot was deflected wide and when the hosts played the corner short and the ball was whipped in, Castagne helped it towards goal where it came back off the face of the bar.

Silva’s side looked to have finally made the breakthrough in the 76th minute when Willian delivered a pin-point cross that was met firmly by Tosin with a header steered towards the top corner but Pickford flew across his line and pushed it over brilliantly with one hand.

Fulham still weren’t done, though. Robinson centred dangerously once more in the 83rd minute and De Cordova-Reid grazed the post with a scuffed shot when well placed and then as the game moved into stoppage time, Muniz had a great chance to win it but planted a header straight at Pickford.

Still Everton, having been battered to a degree for the best part of half an hour, could have – and probably should have – won it at the death. Beto had replaced Calvert-Lewin with around 10 minutes left and he forced a corner when his shot was blocked behind.

Tarkowski connected with the ensuing corner in habitual fashion at the back post, headed it perfectly back across goal where Beto simply had to get over it and nod into the empty side of the goal. Instead he despatched his effort over the bar and a minute later, with the ball pinging around in Fulham’s six-yard box, neither the Portuguese nor Godfrey could stab the loose ball home from close range.

An away point is never something to be sniffed at and, given how strained Dyche’s squad is in terms of numbers, this was a valuable draw and a result that many would have taken before the game. Luton’s 4-0 hammering of Brighton was alarming, though — not only did it lift Rob Edwards’s side out of the bottom three and dump Everton into it, it enhanced the notion that the Hatters might well have enough to stay up.

The Toffees need bodies back, Doucouré and Gueye in particular, and with Danjuma now presumably out for the next two matches at least along with Adamou Onana, it’s almost inconceivable that the club won’t go all out to try and bring someone in on loan who can provide either creativity, a goal threat or both.

We had similar thoughts this time last year, though, and exited the winter transfer window empty handed which means there's an awful lot riding on the appeal against the 10-point deduction that starts tomorrow.

 

Reader Comments (19)

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Martin Farrington
1 Posted 31/01/2024 at 10:39:00
I watched the game. And as weak in players as we are, I believe that was probably the best side we could put out.

It was a cut-and-thrust match (not great football) but it was full of chances at either end.

Denied a penalty. Definitely. As less obvious "handballs" have been given against us frequently.

Unlucky not to win? Arguably

But first half was okay compared to a hemmed-in hanging-on second half, until the end where chances were more scrambles and our luck is woeful.

Oddly Branthwaite made a fair few judgement errors, getting caught over the half-way line on a number of occasions. Fulham failed to capitalise.

Calvert-Lewin is out of sync. Not making the right runs nor anticipating likely spaces to plunder. He seems to need the ball placed into his zone. He started poorly. Beaten easily from balls pumped up to him. But got better when someone clearly told him to leap first.

We look blank up front.

McNeil was anonymous. Harrison runs and runs but is not the answer. Garner on his own in midfield came and went. Danjuma too. Godfrey had a good game considering his lay-off.

Tarkowski seems to be on a solo destroy mission. He is angry. Which is great when channelled. Pickford's kicking was erratic but world class saves are why he is Number 1. Mykolenko was there but needed support ahead. Young was solid.

We rode our luck. As did Fulham. A point shared was a good result ......but only ....

Jim Bennings
2 Posted 31/01/2024 at 11:44:12
Can't really argue that we should have won because for most of the game we had to defend, certainly most of that second half.

We were compact defensively and I suppose that's about all you can say about it right now.

We should have had a pen absolutely but as Sean Dyche stated, we are never getting a penalty are we.

VAR continue to pick and choose who gets what decision.

The chances we had we should have taken but once again we can't put the ball in the net, I've no idea how Beto missed the header, it seemed harder to get it over the bar from so close in.

I don't know where we get enough goals from in this side without Doucoure being available to get enough points on board now.

I can't see Luton being relegated so I think it's out of us perhaps with Forest and Palace.

So much will depend now on the points appeal and if we can get any back, much in the same way it could have an impact on Nottingham Forest if they get a deduction.

We have to work from the platform we are currently on though and work on the emphasis that they are highly unlikely to award us the points back.

Just a shame that we don't have a penny now to make the slightest bit of a difference in this transfer window to help sort the goals issue.

David McMullen
3 Posted 31/01/2024 at 13:33:34
When we put our mind to it (in other word, take out the Luton debacle and the Wolves game), we defend well and resiliently. Hence the clean sheets. Our problem is the decimated squad so we're struggling to take a foothold in games. And that we can't score goals. We're painfully impotent.

They should have half-match, defence v forwards, at Finch Farm, to improve their finishing.

Dave Cashen
4 Posted 31/01/2024 at 13:54:13
You're right about Robinson's handball, Lyndon.

I'm surprised more hasn't been made of it in these post-match comments. I have never seen a more clear handball – and I include Rodri and Hansen in that.

To use old Edinburgh Park parlance, he took the laces out of it.

Mark Boullé
5 Posted 31/01/2024 at 14:32:52
I am willing to bet we don't get a penalty all season in the Premier League.

But the chances we are missing are just shocking and alarming for our prospects of staying up (putting aside the appeal for a moment).

How on earth do Calvert-Lewin and Beto not score those headers? Those are chances a blind donkey would score if put in the same position, for goodness' sake!

Paul Hewitt
6 Posted 31/01/2024 at 14:41:29
Mark,

Any ideas how much that blind donkey would cost?

Mark Boullé
7 Posted 31/01/2024 at 14:57:33
#Paul Hewitt - is now the time to bring up the Arteta money again... :)?
Paul Hewitt
9 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:03:26
Apparently the blind donkey has turned us down. Doesn't want to play with a load of asses.
Ralph Basnett
10 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:08:57
So exhausted are our supporters that this match write-up twelve months ago would have had a hundred replies by now… but we are so worn out, a lot of us can't be bothered.

But please keep up the good work, we enjoy. 👍

Jay Harris
11 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:19:06
Ralph, I agree with you.

The supporters and the players are getting ground down by the decisions against us and the paucity of the squad, especially given the injuries to key players.

We all need some sort of inspiration and good news — starting with 3 points against Spurs.

John Raftery
12 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:25:48
There is no doubt we need an extra body in the squad to provide greater creativity or goals. We have not replaced Iwobi who, despite the flaws in his play, was able to carry the ball and pick a pass.

Unfortunately, the type of player we need is difficult to find at a price we can afford. It would also need to be a player able to hit the ground running, not someone with a questionable fitness or playing record. I will be surprised if we bring anyone in.

James Marshall
13 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:36:03
I'll be amazed if we bring anyone in tomorrow, even on loan.

If you have a look at this link, you'll see there's been barely any transfers at all this window compared to what we usually see.

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/13025536/transfer-news-winter-transfer-window-2024-premier-league-ins-and-outs

So far this window, Premier League teams have spent £50M in total — last January, that figure was £780M. Everyone is terrified of spending any money now.

Ray Roche
14 Posted 31/01/2024 at 15:37:16
The annoying thing about Robinson's handball was that, if the same ball had struck Beto and he had scored, the referee would have disallowed it for handball.

There is a different interpretation to handball by a defender and an attacker. Any handball by an attacking player which results in a goal is regarded as a foul, but a defender can get away with it.

“It was too close to him when it was played” or “His hand wasn't in an unnatural position”. Complete bollocks.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 31/01/2024 at 16:29:34
Agree John. We are mostly bypassing what midfield we have.
Derek Knox
16 Posted 31/01/2024 at 16:32:18
Mark @ 7, "… is now the time to bring up the Arteta money again... :)?"

So it was you who swallowed it!

We all thought it was down the back of one of Kenwright's many sofas! :-)

Mark Boullé
17 Posted 31/01/2024 at 17:09:29
Damn it, Derek, you rumbled me lol.

Unfortunately, inflation means that the Arteta money will now buy us the big toe of a League 2 striker. Just enough to be offside and deny us a penalty when a Liverpool defender picks up the ball and wanders out of the area next time we play them...

Brian Wilkinson
18 Posted 31/01/2024 at 20:06:41
Still time to recall Maupay back, scored again! :-)
Ralph Basnett
19 Posted 31/01/2024 at 22:11:34
Liverpool have Connor Bradley, we’ve got Conor Score.
Si Cooper
20 Posted 31/01/2024 at 22:52:39
I can see why people want that penalty due to the ridiculous ones we've had against us, but I simply don't want terrible decisions to become the norm so I'm not bothered by not getting that.

I also think the Beto chance of the Tarkowski header back across the area was actually a lot trickier than Lyndon describes it. A good deal of pace and a little bit behind meant he had a fair amount to do to get to be able to head it down.

Small margins cost us but I think a point each was probably fair overall.


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